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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LI

DECAY OF THE CALIPHATE           89
and drove him back to his native Sistan. In A.H. 279
(870) Motamid was succeeded by Motazid, who, reversing
his brother's policy, reappointed Amr to Khorasan.
Presumably the Caliph realized his weakness and sought
to play off Amr against the powerful Rafi and the still more
powerful Ismail. In A.H. 283(896) Amr took possession
of Nishapur, defeating Rafi, whom he captured and slew,
and whose head he sent to Baghdad. Intoxicated by this
success, the victor demanded that Ismail should be dis-
missed from Transoxiana, and the Caliph with characteristic
duplicity seems to have encouraged him to attack the
Samanid ruler, whom he at the same time encouraged to
resist The campaign, after a keen struggle, ended in
A.H. 288 (900) in the siege and capture of Balkh, where
Amr was made prisoner. One of the famous stories of
the East relates to his fall. A servant, it is said, while
cooking some meat for the captive leader, left the pot for
a moment to procure some salt. A dog tried to snatch
the meat, but the handle of the pot fell on its neck, and
as it bolted, pot and all, Amr exclaimed : " This morning!
three hundred camels bore my kitchen, and to-night a
dog has carried it off! " Amr also figures in a polo story1
in the Kabus Nama? from which it appears that he was
one eyed.
Ismail was prepared to treat his captive generously,
but the Caliph insisted on his being sent to Baghdad,
where he was executed in A.H. 290 (903). He was
succeeded by his son, who held Sistan for only a year,
after which the power of the short-lived dynasty came to
an abrupt end ; although Sistan for a few generations and,
Baluchistan for many centuries continued to be governed
by scions of the Safforid House.2
The Samanid Dynasty at its Zenith.—Upon the death
of Nasr, Ismail succeeded and began a career of conquest
which raised his principality to a kingdom. Curiously
enough, his first campaign was a Holy War against the
Christian settlement of Taraz, which resulted in its
conquest and the conversion to Islam of its Amir and
1 Ten Thousand Miles, etc., p. 339.
2 Vide Ten Thousand Miles, etc,9 p, 229.